Thursday, June 7, 2012

Another Quickie

Oh, boy.  The hits keep coming.  So much to do, so little time.  So I'm going to jump right into the news.

My favorite -- a NY Times puzzle.  Think like a doctor and guess the reason for this ugly rash.  The answer will be revealed tomorrow.

The House GOP is moving ahead with a bill that would repeal the health reform tax on medical devices and restrictions on the use of health savings accounts for OTC meds, but the President says he will veto it if it lands on his desk.  In my view, this move exposes the politics of all of this -- these pieces of health reform were part of what the President had to do to keep the cost of the plan under $1 trillion (over 10 years), which the GOP demanded.  Now, the GOP wants these provisions gone, which will increase the cost of health reform -- I thought the GOP didn't want to increase costs?  As the President points out, medical device manufacturers -- like the rest of the healthcare sector -- will reap the benefit of having 30 million new people with insurance in the market for health care.  This excise tax doesn't cripple the industry or kill jobs or anything else the GOP claims.  It's pretty clear to me that this is just more pre-election posturing.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney says the President knew health reform would hurt the economy but he pushed ahead anyway.  Really?  First, how has health reform hurt the economy?  The healthcare sector is the one part of the economy that has been adding jobs consistently throughout the recession.  Second, why would any President, knowing he would be running for re-election, do something to deliberately hurt the economy?  Stupid.

Health reform grants to create consumer assistance programs resulted in over 200,000 people in 20 states getting insurance.  So ask your GOP members of Congress why they cut the relatively small funding for this program already.

A mother's blood; a father's saliva; and scientists can map the genome of the fetus.  But I wonder -- is this a good thing?  What will parents do with such information?  Will children with disabilities, or who are prone to chronic illness, be aborted?  I'm a very strong advocate for choice, but do we want to build a race of perfect people?  The ethical implications of this are very complicated -- and very hard to judge.

Two huge hospital systems in Manhattan intend to merge.  This promotes care coordination (a unified medical records system) and possibly economies of scale that would reduce cost, but it also creates a huge bureaucracy that will dominate the market.  Bigger isn't always better -- but sometimes it is.  We'll have to keep an eye on this.

CT scans increase children's cancer risks.  That doesn't mean they should never have a CT scan -- it just means that they should only have them when really necessary.

That's it for today.  Have a great one!  Jennifer

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